Dec 19, 2011

Access vs diversity in bookshops

I recently visited two of my favorite bookshops in New York, St Marks and the Shakespeare & Co on Broadway. Both shops used to have great philosophy sections. Now they have adopted the approach of presenting larger format books, and turning many of the books face-out. Consequently they now they carry a far smaller selection, barely anything beyond the top-of-the-pops. They've eliminated the one reason why I love going to bookshops: when you search for a specific title, you often find lesser-known works shelved nearby. Now, rather than a dozen books on a particular topic, the shelf only displays two or three. The bookshops appear to have ceded diversity to the Internet, and focused instead on the appearance of ease of access. It is a massive loss for readers.

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